When it comes to the experience of music, it’s the feel that is important. As a musician, you are learning to work with the forces of your being, and even the very world and cosmos. This may sound esoteric, but as you progress in true musical experience, you will find it to be true, and even self evident. Even our sciences these days speak of visible and invisible forces at work in the world, and in our being. I am not speaking about things like the movement of the blood. I am speaking about the force that moves the blood. I am not speaking about the physical body. I am speaking about the forces that make it alive. As you progress as a musician, you will learn to feel things you have never felt before. And this is okay. There is nothing to be afraid of. One of the staples of a true musician is creativity; and this takes being open to new experiences. New experiences bring new feelings and new ideas. You have to be willing to move forward into unknown areas. This will challenge your comfort zone. And that is a good thing! Often in life, the very things that you need to do the most will force you to step outside of your comfort zone; and being a good musician is no different! In fact, life and music are one thing. Think this through and take it to heart.
For this feeling exercise I want you to turn off the lights and to sit down with your guitar. It should be pitch black so that you cannot see the guitar or anything around you. Feel free to close your eyes as well. In fact, it is recommended. Once you have turned off the lights and are sitting with your guitar I want you to play a note. Just one simple note. It does not matter what note it is. In fact, do not even worry about what fret or note you are playing. Just play the first fret your finger touches. It is even better if you play somewhere high or in the middle of the fret board so you are less likely to know which fret it is. Again, it does not matter. The point of this is not to know what fret you are playing. And if you have gotten good enough with feeling the fret board that you know what fret it is, then that’s good, but let go of that thought. Play the note and hold it, letting it sustain. The point of this exercise is to clear your mind and simply experience the note. Notice how it sounds; and more importantly, notice how it makes you feel. When the sound fades, play the note again, continuing to let it sustain. Just be with this one note and experience it fully.
Once you feel like you have sufficiently explored this one note, play a different note and do the same thing. Notice the difference in the two. Notice how this note sounds, and how it feels. Take your time with this. Focus and be patient, and allow yourself to really experience. These are key principles of being a musician.
Once you have some experience with this exercise, you move on to whole chords, simply experiencing them. Ultimately you will be able to do this in your playing. You can even use it to experience whole scales, the switching of scales, the switching of chords, and even whole songs. If you practice this consistently, letting it deepen you as a musician, it will ultimately change your whole view on music as well as your playing and writing as a true musician.